I’m sorry you found my blog.
HA! What a funny thing to say on a blog!! But seriously, if you landed here, you either know me, or know someone that has cancer. That’s why I’m sorry!
I hate that word.
I remember sitting in the oncologist’s office in my early 20’s listening to the Dr. tell me that while it was not likely I would get Ocular Melanoma like my Mom, 3 out of 4 people would be diagnosed with some sort of cancer in their life. Since all of my Grandparents and my Mom have died of some type of cancer, I knew my day would come. I just never thought my diagnosis would be the day after my 41st birthday and as a mother of a 10, 7 and 6 year old.
Fast forward 4 years (October 2019) and the cancer has returned in other bones. So here we are, ready to fight again…and looking to be on some sort of treatment for the rest of my life.
This blog is my journey as I fight to leave cancer behind and move on in my life.
I should probably back up and introduce myself . . . my name is Jennifer. I’m a Christ follower, married to an amazing man (who happens to be a chef turned Co-CEO of a restaurant), have 3 beautiful daughters and I’ve been diagnosed with Stage IV Breast Cancer which originally spread to my sternum, but has now spread to quite a few other bones and one of my lungs as well.
I know it can be confusing when you stumble upon a new blog, so let me help you get started.
- I have a blog to keep track of my thoughts and to let friends and family know what’s going on.
- You can get to know our family or read my personal testimony here.
- As I’ve been going through different procedures, I’ve written down what it was like. You can find a list of those over in the side bar (or down at the bottom if you are on a mobile device).
- Click here to receive an email when I publish new posts.
- And finally, if you noticed above that I’m married to a chef and think that must be the MOST AMAZING THING EVER, click here and browse through my blog about what it’s really like to be married to a chef. (I love blogging. Can you tell?)
Here’s what’s going on with me right now . . .
This is Tom Small. I want to thank you all so much for your prayers and support of our entire family during this process. While I may be a bit biased, I know Jennifer brought so much to everyone she came in contact with. She possessed a caring spirit, genuine wisdom and true compassion. She wanted to utilize the challenges of life to provide encouragement and share the testimony of her personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If you feel at all fortunate for having a friend like Jennifer, I can only begin to tell you how spoiled I have been these past 33 years to have her first as a girlfriend and then a wife. My life is different and better in so many ways because of her; she brought out the best in everyone.
Jennifer and I spent a lot of time talking about these days after her passing. Rather than hold a traditional funeral service, we wanted to take a few weeks and then host a Celebration of Life memorial service. We were hoping the delay would allow those who would like to attend the necessary time to coordinate schedules. If you are unable to attend, I do plan on streaming the service on YouTube and it will be available to watch at a later date.
The memorial service will be Saturday, October 16 at 11:00 am, and will be held at Eastridge Baptist Church (12520 SE 240th St, Kent, WA 98031). I will post this information on her Facebook account as well. If you know anyone that may not be following this blog or Facebook, please share the information with them for me. Thank you.
We have received some amazing flower arrangements at our home and it smells wonderful around here! For the memorial service however, Jennifer asked that donations be made to Compassionate Healing Foundation in lieu of flowers.
It will be really nice to get together to remember Jennifer; I’m looking forward to seeing you.
If you are reading this, it means the Lord has taken me home to be with Him.
I am no longer in pain.
I am no longer taking chemo and dealing with side effects.
My body is new and restored.
My housing has been upgraded to a mansion and I’m enjoying praising the Lord every moment of the day.
I am reunited with my Mom and other family and friends who have passed away before me.
Please don’t be sad for me. Trust me, I’m in a much better place than you are right now. 🙂
During my cancer journey, or whatever you want to call it, I was never afraid to die. I knew that because of my relationship with God, I would spend eternity with Him. The journey getting there was the part that made me afraid. You walked the journey with me. You saw how hard it was on me, on our family and on yourself. However, even though the journey was hard, the Lord was with me every step of the way and I am so thankful for that!
I am so thankful for all the love and support so many people gave our family during the time I was sick. Thank you for praying, texting, calling, emailing, visiting, cooking, cleaning…the list goes on and on. Thank you for loving our family.
Thank you also for continuing to love our family as time goes on. Please do not forget about Tom, our girls and our parents in the months ahead. Things will never go back to “normal” for them. Eventually there will be a different normal and I know you will be there to love and support them. Thank you for that.
I know many of you are grieving as well. I’m so sorry! As I write this, I pray that you will love each other and cling to God through this time. (Gosh, this sounds like I’m some amazing person that everyone can’t live without. I don’t mean for it to sound that way. LOL.)
As I write this final post, if you are not 100% sure of what will happen to you when you die, please don’t waste another minute, and ask Jesus to save you from your sins right now. Heaven and Hell are real! Those are the only two options after death. I am in Heaven and I really hope that I see you here one day. If you wait until after you die to see if what I am telling you is true, it will be too late! I beg you to not do that!
Below is a copy of what I believe and why I know I am in Heaven. Even if in the past you have not wanted anything to do with God, would you please take a minute to read it, for me? It’s the last thing I will ever ask of you. 🙂
I remember in High School when I was first asked to write down my personal testimony. You would not think this would be a big deal, but for some reason I had in my mind that my testimony was “boring.” I say this because I know I am not alone. There are many people who have amazing stories about how God grabbed hold of their life and saved them from drug addiction, alcohol abuse, physical abuse, etc. but mine includes none of those, so as a 15 year old, I thought it was boring.
Looking back on that thought, I now know that it was absolutely ridiculous! How could the story of how God saved me from my sins and an eternity in Hell be boring? There is nothing boring about the grace Jesus has shown me and continues to show me each and every day.
So, with that said, here is my “not-so-boring” testimony . . .
I was raised in a godly home with 2 Bible believing, God fearing parents. We went to church every Sunday and Wednesday and my parents sacrificed a lot to send me to a Christian school from Kindergarten through College.
At a young age I accepted Christ as my Savior. What does that mean? Many times Christians say things using “christiany” words without much explanation and assume others (like my young children) will know what we mean.
So, when I say I accepted Christ as my Savior I mean this . . .
I was/am/always will be a sinner. I was born that way, we all are, and my sins separated me from God (Romans 3:23).
The punishment for sin is death and eternal separation from God in Hell (Romans 6:23). Thank goodness things do not end there!!
Because of God’s love for me (all of us), He sent a Savior, His Son Jesus Christ, to take the punishment for my sins upon Himself through His death on the cross (Romans 5:8). I was a sinner in need of a Savior and Jesus was/is/always will be that Savior.
3 days after dying for my sin on the cross, God raised Him from the dead proving that His death was an acceptable payment (Romans 4:25). And now He sits in Heaven at the right hand of God interceding for me (Romans 8:34)!
Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
Salvation is a gift from God and there is nothing we can do to earn it. All we can do is accept it. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. That’s it!
Back to my story . . . I lived in a very comfortable environment where it was “easy” to be a Christian. When a speaker would ask us to think of a friend who was not a Christian that I could share the gospel with, I could never think of anyone. All my friends and acquaintances were from church and school (which happened to be located at our church as well.) My friends all grew up in similar families and environments as I did. What peer pressure there was, was positive.
So life went on. . . .
Fast forward to Junior High. Comfortable is definitely not a word I would use in the same sentence as Junior High. I was a foot taller than everyone (still am) and things were just . . . awkward. It was Junior High.
During one of those “wonderful” years, I had the opportunity to go to youth camp at Hume Lake. Among the beauty of nature and craziness of playing capture the flag in the dark forest, God changed my life.
I do not remember what the speaker spoke on that night, but I vividly remember wondering if my salvation was real. Did I believe what I did because everyone else around me did, or did I really believe I was a sinner in need or a Savior? My salvation needed to be for me, not for my parents, friends, or youth pastor, etc.
That night, under the stars, I rededicated my life to Christ. I thanked God for His gift of salvation and confessed taking it for granted over the past years. I repented and turned away from my old life and way of thinking and I prayed that I would honor and glorify Him in all that I did and in whatever situation He allowed me to be in.
Since that time (finishing High School and College, getting married, having kids, etc.), life is no longer comfortable and easy. I have been faced with trials and situations that I never would have imagined. But through them all, God has been with me every step of the way.
Hebrews 13:5-6 says, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So, we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” What an amazing promise from God. No matter what happens, He is always there!
So, where does that leave me now? How do I apply this to my life on a daily basis?
A few years ago, I was challenged to write a personal vision statement that addressed how I wanted to live my life with God in it. As I share this below, please remember what I said above, that I was a sinner and failed on most of these, if not all of them, regularly. I am so grateful for God’s forgiveness!! This is what I prayed for and tried to be with God’s help.
I choose to be a woman who:
• Is passionate about the Word of God and how that applies to my life, and that that passion is evident to others through my daily actions and my behavior. (Col. 3:23-24, Mark 12:30-31)
• Focuses on being content with what God has blessed me with (salvation, family, health, home) and not let anything rob me of that contentment. (Hebrews 13:5-6, Phil 4:11-13, 2 Cor. 12:8-10)
• Honors my husband (Prov. 31:10-12, 1 Peter 3:1-7, Eph. 5:33)
• Remembers my children are a blessing from God and trains them as the Bible says I should (Psalm 127:3-5, Proverbs 22:6)
• Honors my parents (and in-laws) (Eph. 6:2)
• Lives a daily life dedicated to integrity, commitment, challenge, and joy (Romans 12)
• Trusts God to provide for our family and not worry about the future (Matthew 6:25-34, Phil. 4:6-7)
• Spends time in the Word every day to grow in my relationship with God and to challenge myself (Matthew 6:33, Psalm 119:105, 2 Tim. 3:16, Phil. 1:6)
So, that’s it! That is my “not-so-boring” testimony. After all, how could receiving a gift I don’t deserve be boring?
If you have not yet confessed your sin to God and received His free gift of salvation, won’t you please do so now?! (And if you still have questions, anyone from our church office would be happy to answer them for you!)
Thank you, friends and family, for your love and support! I am so thankful for all of you. I truly hope to see you again one day….
On Friday the infusion nurse came and refilled my pump and raised the amount of medicine that is constantly going through that system. Another nurse came out to unclogged my port so I could start using it again for IV pain medication. It turns out my port wasn’t actually clogged as we had thought a few weeks ago so it was a very quick visit.
Fast forward 2 days and my pain still isn’t under control. We tried taking a different oral medication for breakthrough pain but nothing was making much of a difference. My nurse called yesterday to see if I was OK with switching over to IV meds tomorrow (which is today – Thursday). I knew IV pain medication was likely in the future but this was all changing so fast. Since the oral medication was simply not doing the job anymore, the transition to IV seemed like a good idea. I paused and looked at Tom, paused again, and said yes.
My nurse came today and accessed my port, transitioning me to an IV Dilaudid. This will take the place of both the Fentanyl patches and the Oxycodone. It will take a few days of adjustment but the hospice team feels this is the best path forward for managing my pain. Hopefully I will be able to transition without some of the complications I had in the past.
I lost my balance and fell the other night. I have a few bruises, but am ok other than that. I’m not stable enough to walk with only a cane any more but I’m using my walker and that seems to be okay for now.
I’m pretty shaky from all the narcotics I’m on, so we’ll see how this update goes…
I’m sleeping better with oxygen. That’s a praise! I’m still sleeping a lot during the day, but not quite as much.
My pain is still not under control, so when the infusion nurse comes out on Friday to refill my pump, she is also going to change the amount of medicine that is constantly going in my body. It’s not changing by a lot, but hopefully it will do something.
The pain is the worst at my hips and right shoulder. It’s ok when I’m laying down, but moving and walking hurts. I tried a diclofenac patch and a heating pad on those areas (not at the same time), but neither helped.
It’s been busy around the house as school starts a week from tomorrow. The girls are all very excited to go back. I hope that lasts more than one day!
I still have an appetite. My current diet is Lemon Noosa Yogurt, Creamsicles and See’s butterscotch suckers. I do eat whatever is made for dinner and occasionally something different for lunch, but those are my 3 favorites things right now. It’s very healthy, I know. 🙂 When the Dr. says to eat what ever tastes good, who am I to argue with the Dr?
Well that’s it for now. I will write more later.
I really like my new permanent hospice nurse! I’m so thankful for her sweet, kind and caring personality. Tom is much happier with her as well. She also likes dogs, so even though the company policy says dogs need to be put away, she said she doesn’t mind if he is out. Oliver loved her and was his normal self after a few minutes of getting to know her. That is a huge blessing not having to leave him outside or in the garage when they are here!
My hospice nurse’s name is Julie Lynn. She was here for over an hour today. Part of that time I was also able to meet my hospice Dr. over zoom. It’s nice to have a face to go with a name. She took my vitals and we went over meds.
Even though I increased my Fentanyl patches this week, my pain is the same. So I am going to go back on Gabapentin for nerve pain to see if that helps. I’m also going to try and sleep with my oxygen on tonight. Tom says that sometimes I wake up with a snort, like I didn’t get enough air. I didn’t know that until he said something today. We are hoping the oxygen will help that.read more…
This afternoon I woke up from a nap around noon and tried to talk to Tom for about 15 minutes and within the first few minutes my speech was a little slurred and Tom could tell I was having trouble processing things. It’s frustrating.
I don’t know how to explain this tiredness I feel. I knew I would feel tired and fatigued from taking more pain meds, but no much how much I sleep, I can always sleep more. It’s just not enough.read more…
Not much new to report….
I got my pain pump refilled on Tuesday. I woke up in a lot of pain Thursday. I’m not sure if that’s related.
I’m sleeping a lot. Some days I’m only awake 3 hours.read more…